Windhoek - Three Southern Africa countries -- Botswana, Namibia, and South Africa -- have scored high on the Human Development Report (HDR) released by the United Nations Development Programme (UNDP) last week despite challenges of inequality expanding the gap between the rich and poor.
UNDP country representative to Namibia, Alka Bhatia, said the report goes beyond the figures in trying to find the key reasons for growing inequalities in Namibia as well as assessing the progress so far made to combat poverty.
“Namibia has maintained their high income earning status and is doing well in terms of competing with both Botswana and South Africa. However, the negative news comes from the issue to do with inequality which remains a rather persistent challenge in Namibian societies,” she said.
The latest HDR report released last week shows that Botswana has now climbed the ladder to becoming a high income country, together with South Africa, with adequate funding and support in the key aspects of health, education and development.
Key among the challenges highlighted by the report in the aspect of inequality is the unavailability of jobs among the youths, shortage of housing and general lack of opportunities for those that are not well connected.
The HDR report emphasised the need for African countries to equitably distribute and share natural resources to the benefit of all citizens. It also called for the crafting of stronger policies that can thwart discrimination of the different citizens despite the class strata they live in.
Namibia, on the other hand, performed well despite the challenges of a rather increasing inequality because of poor access to sanitation and housing among the middle income earners and poor to very poor categories.
Speaking at the launch of the HDR, Namibian Minister for National Planning Commission, Oberth Kandjoze, said his government is making concerted efforts to deal with the problems associated with housing development as well as improving the standards of living.
“The issues that are being raised right now are already work in progress and government is working on modalities to solve these. We are also putting special emphasis on improving the quality of training that we are giving in order to strengthen the aspect of employability among the youth,” he said.
Special advisor to the Namibian President on Youth Affairs, Desiree Mathias, said Namibia has done tremendously well to cut down on poverty from about 78 percent upon the attainment of independence in 1990 to the current levels where it stands at 18 percent.
“Inequality is rather a choice and rather deeply rooted. While we are making progress towards this, the challenge is that this has a historical background where certain parts of the population were previously disadvantaged from resources because of the past but in terms of fighting poverty, serious strides have been made and efforts continue to be made to deal with these,” she said.